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Air traffic control simulation for students

Merlin has recently developed an air traffic control simulation for students, the first of which was delivered to Coventry University, UK, in May 2011.

The new ATC station is linked to Coventry's existing MP500, 521 and 520 simulators, and also to their Harrier airframe. Each simulator has to declare its flight plan, call sign, and registration via each individual simulator instructor station. This is then automatically displayed on the ATC Controller's screen.

The ATC screen can then be used to track all aircraft in the air, or on the ground awaiting instructions. Details can be identified by moving the mouse cursor over the aircraft symbol in question. The Helmet Mounted Display 6 axis headtracker enables the ATC Controller to view the entire airport, and the surrounding airspace for incoming/outgoing aircraft.

The ATC software can be used to develop various scenarious with a student acting as ATC, and the others as 'pilots', and will provide a valuable insight into the pressures faced by commercial pilots. It also shows why aircraft need to be stable and controllable - in addition to concentrating on flying their aircraft, pilots must constantly communicate with one another/ground crews/ATC.

For the student acting as ATC, the emphasis is on sifting vital information and giving precise instructions to all his/her aircraft. Throw in a couple of 'problems', and it is hard to say who will have the more stressful job!

The system is totally flexible and can be configured to meet course requirements - and students will be able to fly the aircraft models that they have created themselves. It would be a particularly valuable asset to universities running pilot studies/aviation management/airport operations courses.

Photograph - Air Traffic Control Simulation at Coventry University

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